Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to welcome a new baby to the neighborhood.

Our next door neighbors have been expecting their little girl, and so in anticipation, I've been plotting and scheming.

It's what I do.

Blair (mama to be) and I are not particularly close, but we do have a lot of fun catching up in the backyard and at the occasional party. And beyond that, she's been miserable for the last few weeks. She's a tiny girl to begin with, and having the extra weight and pressure on her body is really taking it out of her, as it does many women in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
So I wanted to do something a little special to make her life easier, and if you know me, you know that means FOOD.

But not just any food. I needed comfort food.. But she's got a baby to take care of, so it has to be healthy comfort food.
Something she can grab and eat with one hand while the other hand holds the baby and the other hand changes a diaper and the other hand cuts on the coffee maker and the other hand pulls her hair out.. that's what I imagine first time motherhood to be like, anyway.
SO yes - something user-friendly, a no fuss snack that can be good for morning breakfast, or midday snack, or late night snack, or some-ungodly-hour-of-the-morning snack.
Maybe it's the sugar withdrawals that I'm having from cutting out carbs lately, but the first thing I thought of was brownies and muffins.
I have searched EVERYWHERE trying to find some recipes for brownies and muffins that would be sufficiently decadent, but also healthy. I'm beginning to think it can't be done.

I did find a recipe for this oatmeal muffin with raspberries and pistachios from

And while I'm not opposed to making it.. I don't think it looks particularly decadent.. and I'm not a big fan of pistachios either.. But switch this out with some peaches and cream oatmeal and skip the nuts, and we may have ourselves a possibility.

But we're still gonna need something chocolate.
I've heard of people making zucchini bread in chocolate form.. and so that made me think I could maybe find a zucchini brownie of some sort.
That's when all hell broke loose.

See - I very quickly found this link for 80 healthy recipe substitutions... and suddenly my mind began to wander.
Look at all the things I can switch around to make things healthier!
Black beans for Flour
Applesauce for sugar
Pureed prunes for oil..
PLUS the zucchini for added green veggies..
Can I do all of these things in one brownie? Will the whole world implode? Will it be awful?

Clearly, I have to find out.
So I found this recipe for zucchini brownies, and the insanity began.

I pureed 1/2 cup(ish) of prunes - if you're doing this instead of already pureed baby food, I suggest adding some of your apple sauce to the food processer because it needed a little bit of the liquid to start spinning. That looks like this:

1 and 1/2 cups of unsweetened applesauce.
 I totally forgot the vanilla extract. Crap!
one 15.25 oz can of black beans rinsed A LOT, then pureed - I dunno if I was supposed to puree or not, but I didn't like the idea of whole beans in my brownies, so I did.
1.2 cup of cocoa powder.
1.5 teaspoons of baking soda
I skipped adding any salt because the beans were canned, so I was concerned that they might be too salty.
2 cups of finely shredded zucchini. This was ALMOST two long zucchini, and the rest got diced up to go into my salad for lunch :)

I spun it around in my mixer for a couple seconds, and then poured into a 9x13 baking dish which I had lined with parchment paper and greased with coconut oil (which is my new favorite thing, BTW)

I tasted the batter.. it tasted a little bland and mildly pruney.. lets hope that adding heat will take it from eh to AWESOME.

*sits and waits*

ok so after 25 minutes, the top is a little burnt looking, and the batter is still quite soft.. i'm concerned, but see no other option than to continue to cook it.. and say some prayers...

A few minutes later, I check it again... its the consistency of hot pudding.. it's bland. It's AWFUL.

What do I do now?
Well I think if I add an egg to the mix, it'll turn it a little more cake-y.. I do remember that from Food Network.. and maybe if I add in some more flavorful things like.. ACTUAL pieces of chocolate.
So back it goes into the mixer.. with a ton (like 2 cups, at least) of bittersweet chocolate shavings that I made but never used for another recipe, 2 eggs,  and the missing vanilla and salt from earlier.
I pour it back into the pan and stick it back in the oven.. but not sure how long I should cook it since it's already been cooked once.. another 10 minutes maybe?

*crosses fingers again*

I'm thinking I should have added banana.. I don't know why. it just seems like it would be good..
then my mind starts to wonder about other mix-ins. I have lots of butterscotch chips.. but people are very picky about butterscotch.. they either love it, or hate it. As hard as it is to believe, I don't have conversations about butterscotch with every person I meet, so I have no clue which side of the fence mama-to-be is on, and therefore should not have put any in the mix.
Clearly I should have used SOME regular flour.. maybe even SOME regular sugar... and maybe even SOME regular oil..
But I gotta admit.. it was really chocolatey now.

The buzzer goes off - it's been 10 minutes, and I pull the pan out. IT LOOKS LIKE BROWNIES!!! but only around the outside.. the inside is still pudding.. so I put it back in the oven. another 15 minutes.

nope - still not quite firm. but better. And still there's a dark layer on top that LOOKS like burning, but it's soft still. back in the oven. another 15 minutes.

Still soft. like spoonable soft.. and they taste like smokey beans.

So what did I do? I'll tell you what I did. I drove to the Food Lion and I bought the girl some cookies.

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